Homemade breadsticks are easy to make using basic ingredients most people keep in their pantry. Learn how to make them with this simple recipe. Perfect with soup or pasta.
Making bread always puts me in the best of moods. It engages all the senses. Especially the pleasant tactile experience of kneading and shaping dough. There’s anticipation involved, too. And at the end you have something wonderful to slather with salted butter. It’s a treat for the taste buds but it’s also good for the heart and soul, if you ask me.
These puffy homemade breadsticks are simple and fun to make. They’re crisp on the outside and a little chewy on the inside. The texture leans toward French bread along with the shaping method (almost like a baguette!), but their exteriors are not quite as crusty. This recipe is quickly becoming a favorite. I’ve made these four times now. And each time my shaping technique gets a little bit better. But they’re meant to be a little rustic, so if your first batches look a little rough around the edges, that’s totally okay! They’re called homemade breadsticks for a reason. And they’ll still taste good.
A basic formula with few ingredients.
Start with active dry yeast, (you can also use instant yeast) sprinkled over warm water and add a little granulated sugar. Stir it all together in a mixing bowl and give it about five minutes for the yeast to bloom. This mixture should puff up and become foamy. I used my KitchenAid stand mixer bowl for this, because that’s how I’m kneading the dough – on the mixer with the dough hook. I’m including instructions for hand-kneading if you don’t have a stand mixer.
Heat up some milk in a saucepan to hot but not boiling. The mixture should steam but not boil. Add 2 tablespoons of cold butter. The butter will melt quickly while lowering the temperature of the milk from hot to mildly warm. It should be about 105°F. Pour this into the foamy yeast mixture an stir briefly.
Next, mix together flour and salt. This is just regular old AP flour – no bread flour is needed. Using the paddle attachment, beat the flour mixture into the yeast/butter mixture little at a time until a shaggy dough forms.
Swap the paddle for the dough hook, and with a timer set, knead on medium-high speed until a smooth elastic dough forms. This will take about 8 minutes.
Place the dough in a greased bowl, and turn it over so that the dough surface is greased. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled.
Shaping the dough.
Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a work surface. The dough should not be very sticky, but if it is you can very lightly dust the work surface. Cut the dough into four equal pieces.
Cut each quarter into three pieces, for a total of 12 pieces. If you’d like your breadsticks to all be completely uniform, you can weigh each dough piece. I didn’t do this, so mine weren’t completely alike – but they were close!
Lightly roll each dough triangle into a ball under a cupped hand. You shouldn’t have to use flour for this part. The dough should have a little tackiness to it so it catches on the table’s surface. Place all of the dough balls under a lightly damp towel.
Flatten a dough ball using your knuckles, creating a slight rectangle shape. Roll up the dough rectangle. This is how the baked breadsticks end up with a soft, fluffy, puffy middle. Just like the ones from my favorite local bakery.
You won’t have to roll the dough tightly, it’s more like folding the dough twice onto itself. I’ve made a video of the mixing and shaping process, so you can watch technique in action.
Roll the dough into a baton shape under flattened palms. Start at the center with light even pressure, and travel outward to the ends. Don’t stretch or pull the dough. Just keep rolling until you have an approximate 9’inch baton.
Place the dough batons seam side-down on a baking sheet and cover them with plastic wrap. Let them rise until puffy, about 20 minutes.
When the breadsticks have plumped, brush them lightly with egg wash and cover with raw sesame seeds.
A bread baker’s secret.
Bake the breadsticks for about 10 minutes in a well preheated 425 ° F oven. During this time, mist the the oven walls with a spray bottle of water about three times. Steam helps the bread form its crisp exterior. If you don’t have a spray bottle, toss a few ice cubes in the bottom of the oven. If you desire a softer exterior, then you could skip this step (but I urge you to try it first!).
These homemade bread sticks have many variations! You can swap out the sesame seeds for an equal amount of poppy seeds. Or, bake them without seeds and brush the breadsticks with melted butter or garlic butter just out of the oven. (Use unsalted butter and garlic salt to make garlic butter). Or, just serve the breadsticks with a bowl of warm marinara sauce topped with melted mozzarella cheese (if this sounds good to you, you’ll love this recipe, too!). You could also dip the baked breadsticks in melted butter and then roll them in cinnamon-sugar for a sweet treat.
Breadsticks are so versatile and a great accompaniment to just about any meal. However, my favorite ways to serve them is with a big bowl of soup or stew. The breadsticks make excellent dunkers!
Homemade breadsticks are best fresh, but you can make them up to 8 hours ahead and rewarm them in the oven just before serving.
Homemade Breadsticks (Bakery Style!)
- 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water 110°F
- 2/3 cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter cold
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour about 17 1/2 oz.
- 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt or other fine grain salt
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 1/4 cup raw sesame seeds
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the yeast, sugar, and warm water. Stir briefly and let stand 5 minutes, or until the mixture bubbles and foams.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the milk until hot and steaming but not boiling. Remove from the heat and add the butter. Allow the butter to melt, swirling the pan occasionally. When the butter is completely melted the milk should be lukewarm (about 105°F). Pour this mixture into the foamed yeast mixture and stir briefly with a spoon.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and sea salt; whisk to mix.
Beat the flour into the yeast/milk mixture on low speed until a shaggy dough forms that mostly pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Change to the dough hook and knead on medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. The dough should not be very sticky but have a little tack to its surface.
Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly oiled bowl and turn the dough over to coat all surfaces with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let stand in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size (about 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes).
Lightly punch down the dough and turn onto a work surface. Cut the ball into four equal pieces (quarters) and then cut each quarter into three equal pieces. You will have 12 pieces of dough.
Roll each piece of dough into a ball under a cupped hand on an un-floured work surface. Place dough balls to the side and cover with a lightly damp tea towel.
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Remove one ball of dough from under the towel and flatten on the work surface using your knuckles or the heel of your hand. Pat it out to a rough rectangular shape. Roll the dough up (not tightly) into a small baton shape. The dough should stick to itself. Begin from the center of the dough piece and roll outwards under your palms, until the dough is about a 9” baton. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and place seam-side-down. Repeat with remaining dough pieces.
Cover the breadsticks with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until fat and puffy, 20-30 minutes.
Combine the egg and water in a small bowl; use a fork to mix together. Use a pastry brush to cover the breadsticks with the egg wash, then immediately sprinkle on the sesame seeds.
Place the breadsticks in the oven and bake for 7-10 minutes or until they just begin to color. During this time mist the oven walls and floor with water about 3 times (avoiding the light bulb and burners). Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Bake 10 minutes longer, or until the breadsticks are golden brown, then place sheet of foil over the breadsticks to keep them from overbrowning. Bake 10 more minutes at 350°F or until the breadsticks sound hollow when tapped on the bottoms. Remove the breadsticks from the oven and let cool slightly.
Serve warm with salted butter, or as a side dish with hearty soups and stews, or a big plate of spaghetti with a side salad. These are also really good with a dipping bowl of olive oil sprinkled with Italian herb seasoning.
Garlic-Parmesan: Bake the breadsticks with just the egg wash applied. Mix together 2 tablespoons melted butter and 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt. Brush breadsticks with the mixture while they are still hot; sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese. This makes awesome cheesy breadsticks! These are especially good dunked in pizza sauce or marinara.
Everything Bagel Breadsticks: Swap out the sesame seeds for an equal amount of everything bagel seasoning. Be sure to tent the breadsticks with foil just after they turn golden brown so the everything bagel seasoning doesn’t overbrown. Avoid being heavy handed with the application –some everything bagel seasoning has coarse sea salt added to the mix – be a label reader!
Soft(er) breadsticks: These breadsticks have a crisp exterior as a result of misting the oven walls with water during the first part of baking. If you prefer softer breadsticks, skip misting the oven walls with water. They’ll still have a browned exterior but very soft in their centers.
Tips: If you don’t have a kitchen-dedicated water bottle for misting, toss a few ice cubes in the bottom of the oven. They will melt and steam the breadsticks as they bake.
I baked these using the electric range at my workshop, and they were near perfect at the designated baking time. On my home range, which is gas, these browned much more quickly. Be sure to check these breadsticks during the second bake at 350F. They will easily overbrown, and should be tented with foil to avoid an overbaked exterior.
Freeze the shaped dough on a baking sheet, then transfer the unbaked breadsticks to a freezer bag. To make, place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and allow them to thaw and puff at room temperature. Egg wash, garnish, and bake as directed.